A COMMUNITY has united to try and solve the issue of its endemic staff shortages.

Sedbergh currently has 103 job openings across a wide range of professions from hospitality staff, and mechanics to school administrators and delivery drivers.

The effects are already being felt, with the Black Bull unable to open seven days a week, and Sedbergh School, the area’s biggest employer, having to scour the country to find staff.

Residents and business owners are becoming increasingly concerned with the situation, and Joanne Golton, from Sedbergh Economic Partnership, cites the lack of affordable housing and poor travel links as some of the factors causing the staff shortage.

“Sedbergh is such a lovely place to live, you’ve got the great outdoors, a high street full of independent shops and you’ve got the things you need, schools, the medical centre,” she said.

“But there are a number of issues and we’re struggling to fill vacancies.

“The biggest employer in Sedbergh is the school, which employs 450 people, it’s one of the biggest in South Lakeland, and nearly half of Sedbergh’s vacancies are there alone.

“And there are all sorts of vacancies, all sorts of levels, teaching, heads of departments and then housekeeping and administrators.

“The shortages are primarily down to housing, trying to find places for staff to live.

“There’s just no rental market at all in Sedbergh, quite a few second homes and holiday lets.

“But also, public transport is a key issue.”

The partnership is working to prevent a staffing crisis and has already put the wheels in motion for several schemes to alleviate the situation, including a local lodging scheme, bus services for employees and new childcare offerings.

“We’re looking to work with Sedbergh School who are now busing people in from other towns to work,” said Ms Golton.

“We’re going to open that up for all other employers.

“We’re going to work with locally run bus companies to try and get more employee focused transport to get people into Sedbergh and out again.

“And we’re also about to launch a local lodging scheme, because we have quite a lot of houses in Sedbergh that are bigger than perhaps people need.

“We’re looking to create an accommodation bureau, so that people coming to work in Sedbergh, particularly seasonal staff, or young people, can find accommodation.

“That would be working with the local solicitors, so that it’s all above board.

“The other thing that stops people applying is that a lot of jobs are full time or set hours and it’s tricky with childcare.

“We’re working with a partner to try and get a private day care nursery in Sedbergh, because there isn’t one.

“Thankfully the primary school has announced they’re going to have a full wrap around care system for their kids which means that the children will be there from 8am till 5pm.

“Obviously there’s more to be done, but these are the things we’re coming up with.”